Women's Health - Questions, Issues, Fitness and More
How We Usually Think
When we think of a midwife, we usually put things into the perspective of birthing a baby, often a home birth. We know the midwife is on hand to coach and help the mother through the birthing process, ensuring both mother and baby are progressing well through labor and delivery - without interfering in the natural flow of things. We also associate her involvement during the pregnancy in terms of answering questions and checking in on the pregnant woman regularly. All of this is certainly a huge part of what the midwife does. However, there is far more to her input and importance.
Midwives are trained professionals who, over the course of a woman's pregnancy, create a relationship with the mother, her partner and in some cases, the rest of the family. Midwifery is essentially a system of women's health and wellness care provided for by professional midwives to women and infants during the childbearing year. In many countries outside of the US, midwives are the primary care givers in maternity systems that have better neonatal mortality rates than those of the US. Part of the training of a midwife is to observe and be watchful for deviations from normal health throughout the pregnancy and labor, and, if necessary, refer the woman to a physician.
There's More To It Than Birthing the Baby
Women's health issues include more than pregnancy and childbirth, although that is where a midwife focuses the majority of her involvement. Often women's health questions extend beyond the common questions about pregnancy, labor, and childbirth - and a midwife is usually a good source for the answers to these questions. You will find that midwives are contributors to health magazines, writing women's health articles concerning such things as the effects of sexually transmitted diseases on women's health and their ability to have babies. They also communicate on such things as breastfeeding and weaning the baby. The input of a midwife goes a long way to helping a new mother adjust to the role of mothering and parenthood.
The Global Impact of Midwifery
Midwives have a distinct role in the discussion of women's health on a global scale. Midwives from all over the world convene for conferences, have their own medical journal, and write for women's magazines. Their collective input effects birth outcomes worldwide as they are often the only form of professional help a woman can get in some countries. As midwives are given more and more respect and allowed to practice as their training has prepared them, they can help whole communities deal with such things as sexually transmitted diseases, teen pregnancies, high infant mortality, and other women's health issues. Men's health is also addressed, often in the context of STDs, but also in terms of his involvement in the pregnancy and birth of the baby.
Fitness and Fitting the Father Into the Picture
On a more personal level, a midwife can help guide a mother toward women's fitness and the need to stay healthy through exercise and proper diet. She can help the woman get involved in a women's fitness program that would be suitable for her at the stage of pregnancy she is in, or, she may be able to encourage an overactive woman to pace herself in order to make things safer for both mother and baby. Diet is another place a midwife is knowledgeable and able to impact a pregnancy woman's health.
Screening for various prenatal issues, especially if there seems to be an indication that there may be a problem, can be ordered by a midwife, eliminating the need to spend hours waiting for an appointment with the doctor in order to get the screening done. A midwife takes all the time necessary to explain things regarding a woman's health during pregnancy, labor, delivery and afterward so a woman fully understands what is happening to her, to her baby, and what to expect. The midwife also helps the father feel more relaxed and to understand the processes as well - dispelling fears and concerns. Men's health, especially the mental health aspect of it, is part and parcel of the process of working with a pregnancy. Fathers are an integral part of the experience, and although they may want to be involved, there are mental and emotional issues that keep they on the periphery. The skill of a midwife is evident when you see a father actively involved in the birthing process, perhaps a bit shaken, but present and accounted for.